On last night’s podcast, I announced that CAIVN will be running a series on in-depth articles on the California prison mess. The series kicks off on Monday with an introductory article (I’ll repost it here) discussing the multitude of issues. Â These includes the Supreme Court ruling that California prisons are cruel and unusual punishment because of overcrowding, how the Three Strikes sentencing creates overcrowded prisons, unfunded federal mandates, health care concerns and rising costs for aging inmates, the power of the prison guards union, drugs and rehabilitation, the prison-industrial complex, privatization of prisons, and more.
Steve Hynd detailed how Obama’s announced troop reduction in Afghanistan will actually mean that more troops will be there at the end of his first term than at the start. This is progress? Worse, the plan is for the remaining tens of thousands of troops to be in a “support” role by 2014. That’s right, 2014. This doesn’t sound like the war will be ending any time soon.
We both discussed Huntsman, and agreed that he seems to have considerable hidden support from powerful business interests, along with a telegenic persona, and the ability to move through multiple levels of political strata without riling the waters. In short, he reminds of Obama in early 2008. So, who is backing him?
Finally, while many of the listeners of the podcast are lefties, most of the subscribers on BlogTalkradio are sharply right-wing, and while we often favor libertarian views, are baffled as to why this is. Ideas, anyone?
Voters agree with Gov. Brown’s plan to transfer low-risk state inmates to local jails in order to comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling on overcrowding in state prisons. However, they don’t want to pay any extra taxes to do it. They also overwhelmingly say that the current Three Strikes law should be amended to give judges more leeway in sentencing, as this could ease prison overcrowding. These findings come from a Field Poll released on June 16.
The US Supreme Court, after years of lawsuits and appeals, said California state prisons are so overcrowded that they are unconstitutional, provide substandard health care, and are hazardous to guards as well as inmates. They ordered that the inmate population be reduced by 30,000 within two years. However, as is often true with federal government mandates and court decisions, funding the cost was left to the state. Gov. Brown wants to raise taxes or extend current increases to pay for this, but voters oppose both plans. Republicans, Democrats and Independents all oppose a tax hike while Republicans and Independents also oppose extending tax increases, something Democrats favor. But taken as a whole, voters oppose extending tax increases 48-44.
The thinking here is muddled. If the state doesn’t pay for transferring the inmates, then the municipalities will. This cost will surely be passed onto taxpayers one way or another. So if taxpayers manage to avoid new state levies to pay for the transfers, they will end up paying for them on the local level anyway. You can’t relocate and then house 30,000 inmates without someone paying for it. Ultimately the cost will be paid by taxpayers.
California has known since 1996 that this decision could happen and has done precious little in the intervening fifteen years to be proactive and fix the problem before it becomes a crisis. This is standard operating procedure for California. Pretend a crisis isn’t happening then be gobsmacked when it does.
In another example of the paralysis that is the apparent natural state of California politics, the Supreme Court will probably rule in June that the state must release at least 35,000 prison inmates due to severe prison overcrowding, which results in substandard health care.
Goodness, you say, surely this problem must have sprung out of nowhere quite recently and thus California will be rushing to fix it, right? Au contraire. The first lawsuit against California prison overcrowding was filed in 1991. The US Congress passed a bill in 1996 that made it clear that courts could and would intervene if states did nothing about prison overcrowding. So, faced with this obvious and clear mandate for change, California has done precious little to be pro-active and now appears utterly gobsmacked that the courts may in fact, force inmates to be released.